Don Maslow Coffee - Making Coffee better for everyone!

We offer premium quality coffee that saves the rainforest.

Photo of Don Maslow Coffee
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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Vanessa Hernandez Romero

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • United Arab Emirates

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?

Our coffee is harvested in Yoro, Honduras. Our Headquarters are in Dubai, and we plan to export the coffee to the Middle East. Currently, our coffee is being sold in Los Angeles, California.

Website or social media url(s)

Date Started

February / 2019

Project Stage

  • Start-up (first few activities have happened)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €1k - €10k

Organization Type

  • For-profit

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

Being born in Honduras, I am not estranged to the problems my country faces and I have always wanted to use my international experience to help alleviate some of those challenges. When I was made aware that throughout Central America, approximately 6,500 hectares of forest is consumed each year to supply the firewood for drying the coffee I knew I needed to do something. And the problem is much, much bigger than that.. Tropical deforestation is the third biggest carbon emitter in the world. Studies indicate that tropical deforestation accounts for up to 15% of net global carbon emissions each year. This is approximately the same as every car, truck, bus, plane, ship and train on the planet combined.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Traditional coffee processing is powered by burning wood cut from tropical forests to dry the coffee. This technique has resulted in mass deforestation and CO2 emissions. Roughly 3cm2 of tropical forest is destroyed for every cup of coffee consumed. Our goal is to replace this traditional method of coffee processing by using solar powered driers to produce coffee and promote this coffee production model around the world.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Don Maslow Coffee is different to other coffees in three key ways. 1. Our coffee supplier uses solar powered drying systems which eliminates the requirement to cut trees for wood to burn as fuel for drying coffee in the traditional coffee drying method. 2. Our coffee is grown using the innovative Integrated Open Canopy™ (IOC) farming technique. The IOC method is a way of growing coffee that instead of clearing woodland to make way for the farm, includes the forest habitat as part of the coffee farm. IOC coffee production has been proven to increase coffee yields while supporting the forest habitat and its biodiversity. 3. Don Maslow Coffee uses only 100% compostable packaging. Benefits of Don Maslow Cofee - Preservation of the rainforest. - Promotion of solar dried coffee and sustainable coffee agriculture methods. - Support a better livelihood to independent Honduran coffee farmers. - Our packaging is certified 100% compostable, meeting ASTM D6868 and EN13434 standards.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

Integrated Open Canopy production and biodiversity The loss of forest and the potential loss of native biodiversity resulting from coffee cultivation and processing is substantial. These limitations include the loss of tropical species that depend on primary forests because many of the important habitat features typical of mature forests, such as lianas, bromeliads and large trees, are under-represented or absent in all but the most rustic coffee plantations.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

Our solution brings together the traditional coffee industry, solar energy technology and modern farming techniques. Coffee farming is a traditional practice which has existed for hundreds of years which is now being innovated to increase yields and minimize environmental impacts. We are in the process of reaching out several organizations to promote our coffee to prove the solar dried and IOC coffee model, such as WeWork and Amazon.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

The solar dried coffee product is a very new entrant in the coffee industry with very few competitors to Don Maslow Coffee. All other competitors are looking to sell their coffee as part of their own brand, and in extremely localized North American markets. Don Maslow Coffee has been developed to promote this environment saving coffee on a global scale to be part of a long term solution to climate change. As such, the brand has been developed as a luxury Honduran coffee brand, to commercialize rainforest saving coffee and develop awareness across the world.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Our coffee is now available to consumers through our website, and now we have partnerships in place with the coffee farmers, roaster, shipping company and global distributor. Our current phase is to increase business development activities to promote our products on an international scale. Scale: Our activities are currently focused in developing markets in the USA, UAE and UK, but as the demand grows, we plan to sell globally, and partner with farmers to invest in more solar drying systems. We are in the process of reaching out several organizations to promote our coffee to prove the solar dried and IOC coffee model, such as WeWork and Amazon.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

The first batch of our green coffee was purchased from our suppliers using the Direct Trade model, which meant that the farmer set their own price (above commodity market rates) and also avoided paying the registration fees of being part of the Fairtrade program. As such, our solution has improved our farmers' community by providing them with additional business. Our long term vision is to revolutionize the coffee production method globally by proving that the solar dried coffee model is profitable, thereby attracting other businesses to invest in these new methods and change how coffee is farmed, forever.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

In order to scale our business, the only new investments that are required are new solar powered coffee driers, more green coffee purchases and more coffee roasters. Our business model is to target small to medium-sized B2B customers and to develop a loyalty program for them to create repeat business. Our purchases are done online and our fulfillment is automated, therefore, a large increase in demand would have a minimal effect day-to-day operations, which means accessible scalability. Without the prize money or external funding, we have in place enough funding to moderately scale the business at a slow pace.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Vanessa Hernandez Head of Partnerships Vanessa, from Honduras has a background in international business development having worked in the Middle East, China and Latin American markets and for brands such as Expedia and Marriott. Rushu Das Head of Operations Rushu, from the UK has a background in project management, finance and operations having trained at EY and worked for several multinational companies.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far


Yes, absolutely! - 50%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 50%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


5 —Absolutely! It’s crystal clear how the solution is directly contributing to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity. - 0%

4—Yes, it establishes a clear connection to biodiversity. - 50%

3—Somewhat, the entry speaks to biodiversity but the direct impact is not well established and/or it is focused on a single species without considering its impact on the broader ecosystem - 25%

2—Not really, the connection to biodiversity is weak - 25%

1—No. The entry does not reference the solution’s impact on biodiversity. - 0%

3. 3) Is this entry IMPACTFUL?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4- Yes, I think so. - 75%

3- Maybe. - 0%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

4. 4) Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4- Yes, I think so. - 25%

3- Maybe. - 50%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

5. 5) Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4- Yes, I think so. - 100%

3- Maybe. - 0%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%


5 -Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4- Yes, I think so. - 25%

3- Maybe. - 25%

2- Probably not. - 50%

1- No. - 0%

7. 7) Does this entry value COLLABORATION WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS in its approach?

5- Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4- Yes, I think ko. - 50%

3- Maybe. - 25%

2- Probably not. - 25%

1- No. - 0%

8. 8) FEEDBACK – Highlights

INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions - 100%

IMPACT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 66.7%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 33.3%

VIABIBLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 100%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 0%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 0%

Other option - 0%

9. 9) FEEDBACK - Areas for Improvement

INNOVATION: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 50%

IMPACT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 50%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 50%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 0%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 50%

WRITING STYLE: Try to be more concise, descriptive, clear, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming - 100%

Other option - 0%


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